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Brookfield business owners hope music fest helps the bottom line

Brookfield, IL

snapshots.mysuburbanlife.com/1032060 Staff photo by Paul Iwanaga Johnny Burgin with the Rockin Johnny Band sings while entertaining patrons at Salt Creek Wine Bar in Brookfield. On stage (left) is Rick Kreher. Brookfield merchants are facing a proposed tax on entertainment. Enjoying the music are Chris (right) and Paula Cook from Downers Grove.
snapshots.mysuburbanlife.com/1032060 Staff photo by Paul Iwanaga Chris (left) and Paula Cook enjoy the music of Rockin Johnny Band while at the Salt Creek Wine Bar in Brookfield. Brookfield merchants are facing a proposed tax on entertainment.

Despite a possible new tax heading their way, members of the Brookfield Bar Owners Association hope a festival of music will liven up the Brookfield scene.

The fourth annual music festival, to take place from 7 p.m. to midnight July 17, is a chance to bring new people into Brookfield that will hopefully return to spend their money in town, bar owners said.

Greg Gall, the owner of the Blue Martini Lounge and creator of the music fest, said he wanted the event to bring exposure to what’s in Brookfield.

“When I came up with the idea of the festival, I wanted to show people that Brookfield is a cool place,” he said. “It brings a lot of people to the community that may not have discovered Brookfield as a whole. They may have gone to the zoo, but we want them to venture beyond that scope and go in and see the town.”

Each of 12 bars will have a different band, Gall said.

Complimentary trolleys will take patrons from bar to bar for the five hours of the festival.

Dampening the festive spirit is a looming Brookfield Village Board vote Monday, July 12, on a food and beverage tax, which Gall said would seriously hurt the business community.

“The country expects people who deal in liquor and cigarettes — what were once forbidden pleasures in life — to pay for the burden of everything,” Gall said. “The village still can’t come up with an idea for revenue without taxing the hell out of the businesses.”

Gall said he was worried new taxes would cause local businesses to shut down.

“Business owners work the hardest and we’re taxed the most, and that needs to stop,” he said. “They’re gonna put everybody out of business. They’re not gonna attract anybody, and they’re not gonna keep the businesses they do have.”

Ellen Frantzen, the owner of Joe’s Saloon, is optimistic the fest will showcase the entertainment and dinning offerings of the village.

“We give people a reason to come to Brookfield, to bring their friends and have a good time. I am amazed and excited that the festival has gone on for so long,” Frantzen said.

Chris DiBraccio, the owner of Brixie’s Saloon, said he hoped the festival would bring crowds to Brookfield that would return once the celebration was over. He and his wife, Renee, are the third-generation owners of the bar.

“It’s a great community event, and it brings out a lot of people to Brookfield,” DiBraccio said.

DiBraccio said he too was concerned about how the new tax, if passed, would affect his business.

“It will affect the people who come here because Brookfield will be one of the higher tax rates around — we already start at 10 percent,” DiBraccio said. “As far as the bar association is concerned, we could see this tax making people perceive Brookfield as an expensive place to go out to be entertained, and we don’t want that to be the case.”

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